Taxing TransCanada: Energy East answers prompt more questions about pipeline
Pipeline construction materials are shown in this file photo. (Grand Forks Herald / Eric Hylden)
The proposed Energy East pipeline would mean millions of dollars in additional property tax revenue for Saint John and New Brunswick, but some questions about the project remain unanswered.
Saint John Common Council recently posed dozens of questions to TransCanada Corp, including inquiries about tax revenue.
TransCanada Corp. said the pipeline would bring in about $10 million in additional property tax revenue in the province, with half of that going to the City of Saint John alone.
“Everything should be on the record. Everything should be signed, sealed and delivered so we don’t get into another mess,” said Coun. Gerry Lowe, referring to the tax break given to Canaport LNG.
This time, the company has said there will be no tax deal.
“Energy East will pay all taxes owing – no alternative arrangements will be sought nor are being contemplated,” said TransCanada Corp. in a statement.
“It answers a lot of questions and it doesn’t answer some questions … about the working force, I mean, that’s real important to me, who’s going to get the jobs here when we build this thing through Saint John or the outskirts, if it is built,” said Lowe.
Two questions that remain unanswered are how much of the oil will be loaded onto ships for foreign ports and how much will be used in the local refinery. Neither TransCanada Corp. nor Irving Oil have provided a ballpark estimate.
In response to a city question about what the company will do if homeowners suffer damage to wells or septic systems, TransCanada Corp. said:
“In the unlikely event of any damage, Energy East will be responsible to provide alternative services to affected landowners.”
But Lynaya Astephen, whose Red Head, N.B. home is close to the area designated for the proposed tank farm and marine terminal, finds little comfort in the company’s response.
“What does that mean for residents in Red Head who are on wells? Does that mean we’re going to have to have bottled water, such as areas like Penobsquis?”
Astephen also wonders about the effects blasting will have on foundations of homes in the neighbourhood.
As for whether a temporary construction camp will be built for workers, the company said that idea isn’t on that table at this time, which is good news for Saint John.
City officials would prefer that specialized workers who have to be brought into the area be placed in local housing, which would mean more money in the community.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron